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Oh the holidays. “Festivus for the rest of us” stems from the show “Seinfeld”. George’s dad explains one Festivus tradition as “After Christmas dinner you gather all the family around and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year!” Oh, how my family loves doing that, only it’s not just the past year, it’s everything you have ever done wrong since the day you where born.  I’m sure if your like me, you like to remind yourself of every way you have disappointed everyone you know in the past year.

Character defects and asking the God of our understanding to remove them are a big part of our sobriety and step work. I my self viewed my family as one big character defect, my Higher Power as not removed them. Of course, my Higher Power and I seem to have different ideas about what my character defects are and are not. Its a good thing. When I did my first 6th step and tried SO hard to be willing and ready to give up all my short comings I beat my self up pretty hard. At the same time, I realized that I seemed to be just as hard on the people in my life as I was on me. We are all human, everyone of us, and being imperfect is a part of it. Drinking always seemed to fool me into thinking that all my problems where not me; I was a victim. It was not my fault they do not understand me, I’m awesome. They are the jerks. Once I started to gain a little more sobriety and clarity through working this program, I realized I was not perfect, and I could not expect the people in my life to be perfect either. I could let go of my defects, but that also meant letting go of theirs as well. Spending any amount of time with them without drinking my self blind drunk and finding the purse that I’d puked the next day depended on it! So here it is, your guide to character defects, brought to you by someone wrought with them…but ok with it and letting them go one defect at a time.

Yep, you screwed up. A bunch. the secret is, look at it, own it and knock it off. People will bring it up. Over and over again. You do not have to react, because you know you are not that person anymore. Smile nod and accept. If you show that you let it go, they will too because they are not getting the reaction they anticipated. With that…oh my gosh! you have changed!

Everyone has them. Alcoholic or not. I’ve been told, I don’t know how many times “ The things people do that bug you the most are the same things you do.” This as been told to me by people with far more time in the program than me.  Yeah right. I do not leave my car blinker on for six straight blocks while driving 25 miles and hour in a 40 mile and hour area, only to turn right instead. Then of course a few days later there I am, radio turned up singing my heart out and I look down. Crap: blinkers be going for the last ten minutes. Whoops. So I have learned that if I want the right to be mad at someone for leaving the blinker on, I better make sure its because its something I’ve never done. This has given me the ability to notice my own behavior and defects of character and not only forgive and correct my self, but give the same treatment to others.  Disappointments are going to happen throughout life.

It’s up to you how you choose to let them go.

-Jill F.

 

 
The first time I got drunk was at age 14, and for some reason I thought “I can control this and I can do this whenever I want for as long as I want” right off the bat. I tried to prove that that I could control it for about 37 years. Then came the old story, like most alcoholics that are around the program tell –  we know that after a while, we cross that line where we lose control. It’s a disease that is too powerful and it took over my life. Towards the end of my drinking,  the next drink was the only thing I thought about. I could have one in my hand and I would be thinking about the next one.

I didn’t drink a lot after the age of 14 until I graduated high school. I was born in northern Utah and I was a Mormon farm kid. That made me feel like there was no way I could be an alcoholic. Drinking was hard to do where I grew up and you couldn’t get away with it because everyone knew your business. My alcoholism started to really show up when I came down to University of Utah and learned how to really drink. I related with a speaker tape I heard once stating that, “my blood alcohol level was higher than my grade point average when I was pretending to go to school.” I quit school of course, not being able to maintain that kind of discipline, and eventually got married at age 21. I  married a woman whose father was an alcoholic that died from this disease at the age of 43. She didn’t drink but she sure put up with people who did. She lived with alcoholism her whole life, first with her father and then with me. We were married for 31 years and divorced when I got sober. We have three children, none of which caught the disease that I have. I have a couple of granddaughters that have never seen me drink. That has been a real blessing.

Through all the years of my alcoholism, I was a good pretender. I worked hard, not very successfully, but hard. Drinking was always involved and I lost two businesses, a home and other toys through drinking. I racked up a few DUI’s. Towards the end, I was regularly getting into trouble with the law, finances and all of that. In 1987, I was introduced to AA by a mental health counselor and she took me to my first meeting. I didn’t go to a lot of meetings; in fact, I believe I went to six meetings in the 18 months I stayed sober that first time around.  I went back to work on a construction job but because I didn’t have any defense, I drank again. I tried to prove again that I could control my drinking and soon spiraled downhill.

The last three years of my drinking I lost everything: my marriage went on the rocks, I lost a business, I racked up more DUI’s. In December 1991, it got bad enough that I knew I had to do something. I was selling safe driver’s insurance and drinking every day. I got another DUI when I tried to sell insurance to an off-duty sheriff. That didn’t work very well; he recognized a drunk when he saw one. I started going  to one meeting a week, still drinking every day. I would drink before the meeting and I would drink after the meeting. I drank every day in between for almost four months. Then I  got another DUI and was looking at possible prison time. I got fired from a job and like a good alcoholic, I went to where people understood: Wendover. I funded this by cashing in some checks that I had forged my wife’s signature on.

About 2pm in Wendover, I had a moment of clarity, a rude awakening, or a spiritual experience – whatever it was I had, my world stopped. I was at a blackjack  table and a voice came to me from inside that said “You need help. You are an alcoholic and you need help.” I knew then that I was done. I picked up the money I had at that moment and left Wendover. Funny enough, it turned out I left with exactly the amount of money that I had when I got there! As I headed back to Salt Lake, I was stopped by Highway Patrol and that was another DUI. This one would send me to prison, or so I thought. I went to jail in Tooele overnight and then 10 days later, I didn’t go to prison, I went to AA. My sobriety date is March 12, 1992.

I started to go to a little meeting called the Downtown Bunch and hang out at Fellowship Hall. After about 3 months I was starting to look for work again. One day I was standing by a bus stop and I saw an old friend that told me that I could work for him if I could stay sober. This is how I got back into the bowling business that I had been in for twenty years. We opened a shop called Rancho Lanes.

That Downtown Bunch eventually moved to Rancho Lanes when they needed a new spot. That group was very instrumental in my sobriety. I met and developed relationships with a bunch of old timers, retired pilots, lawyers and some street drunks. During this period, I  started to get really involved with the Haven Treatment Center, going to meetings there every day.  I currently have a home group which is the Nomadic Lunch Bunch; we meet five days a week, Monday through Friday at 12:15. We started that group at a bowling alley on North Temple and two other bowling alleys later, we are now at a different place, but for 22 years now, it has been my recovery meeting.

In the process of all these years, the one thing that I really did besides listening and meeting with a sponsor who got me grounded in the program is that I started to get active in service work. I took on jobs like chairing meetings, getting speakers for various meetings, and becoming the secretary for a meeting in the House of Hope when we had a speaker meeting there. I set up the room for my home group every day and got the coffee ready. I was the GSR for that meeting as well. 22 years later, I still ALWAYS have something going on between service among AA groups and volunteering at Central Office. I have sponsored people and been sponsored. For me, it is the only thing that works in the long term to help me stay sober and combat this disease.

I know there are many other ways to stay sober other than AA,  but I don’t see other ways that build the friendships that we have here, friendships from all different walks of life. It was never unusual for me to sit in a meeting with an airline pilot, a celebrity, a professional athlete, lawyers, doctors, nurses, street people, drinking drunks, desperate people, and treatment center people. We would sit in a meeting and talk about alcoholism and recovery. It is incredible – an incredible experience that I get to have on a regular basis. It is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

Another gift that I have gotten from sobriety is awareness: the ability to pay attention to life. I strongly recommend sobriety, especially for alcoholics and I recommend the fellowship. I try to be an example of recovery wherever I go. I am always available to help someone if they ask. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” This is what AA has done for me.

-RUSTY

 

 

 

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When most people hear Chapter 11, they think of bankruptcy. According to bankruptcy law, filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy puts an “automatic stay” on the actions of creditors. That stay provides a person or company with a new chance to prioritize their responsibilities and move forward. Chapter 11 in the Big Book, A Vision for You, provides a summary of a remarkably similar plan of action in the lives of alcoholics.

“For most normal folks, drinking means…release from care, boredom, and worry… But not so with us in those last days of heavy drinking…As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settle down”

Before I sobered up for good, I had spent almost ten years in and out of the program.  Each time I drank again, I felt more and more isolated. Shame and guilt kept me from reaching out to my friends in recovery. My wife had long since disallowed me to drink at home, so I had to drink by myself in secret. Every day was shrouded in that chilling vapor. As I approached the jumping off place, I slowly shrugged off every connection I had to humanity. Every failed attempt at turning my life around weighed on me like a backpack full of stones. And when I finally reached the end, I found that I no longer wanted to live, but didn’t have the spiritual energy to end it all. I wasn’t actively suicidal, but I wouldn’t have minded an errant bus hitting me, either. So I did what I knew how to do; I turned back to Alcoholics Anonymous. When I did, I noticed a remarkable thing: I was experiencing meetings like it was brand new to me.

We go to these meetings and people seem normal. They smile, and laugh, and they look good. They have jobs, and cars, and houses; and we think, “I am not like these people.” Then they start telling their stories: tragic and horrifying stories — awful stories — stories like ours. And maybe someone gets up and tells a story of driving drunk. And they get pulled over. And the officer comes up to their car. The officer can see they’ve been drinking and tells them to step out of the car. But when they get out, they are too drunk, so they fall onto the ground at the officer’s feet… and then they throw up on the officer’s shoes.

For some strange reason, this story of humiliation strikes everybody as HILARIOUS. And they laugh. At horrible things like this, they laugh. And when somebody does an everyday thing like get insurance for their car or get their driver’s license, they applaud. And at first we don’t get it. We think, “What are these people laughing at? Why, exactly, are they clapping?” Then one day somebody gets up and tells our story. Some of the details are different, but it’s our story. They talk about missing births and disappointing their family. They talk about the pain and the loneliness. And we realize that we aren’t alone. These people, we think, have been where I have been. And it slowly dawns on us that these people seem normal. They are happy. They have been in the darkness that we are in and have found a way out. And if they have found a way out, they can show us the way out. And for the first time in months, if not years, we have hope. We are not alone, and hope is suddenly not lost. And so we keep coming back… I kept coming back.

“there is a substitute…It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous”

In the 2 years since I’ve come back, I’ve been reminded how important the fellowship is in my recovery. Of course working the 12 steps, the program, is imperative; but having friends to trudge the road with is also vital. They keep the loneliness at bay, and help me stay on the beam. Through their example, I learn how to register my car, pay my bills, and walk through life with dignity. Shame and isolation prevents action. Knowing I’m not alone gives me incentive and motivation to act towards a better life.  The fellowship literally puts an “automatic stay” on the shame and fear to act, because I realize I’m not alone. Chapter 11 reminds me that, through spiritual bankruptcy, I am given a chance to live a life worth living; to be a man of substance. And for that, I am endlessly grateful.

-Troy M.

 

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Greetings Salt Lake Central Office! I wonder why it is that memory is so selectively poor? When I drank, it was like the book describes, I was “…unable, at certain times, to bring into our (my) consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago…”. So I’m sitting here, innocently minding my own business, when Jennie sends me an email asking for my Lifeline article. Just like last month. And the month before. And I even have technology on my side today, but still can’t manage to remember. Guess I can blame old age. Fortunately for me, I have all of you to remind me I can’t drink. I’m sure I would forget that too.

I want to thank you for the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me by electing me as the CO Chair for the next two years. It gives me great pleasure and is a great honor to serve the AA community here in Salt Lake City. Please feel free to contact me about CO issues, concerns, if you have questions, or just plain want to talk. My number is 971-235-5240 and email: wwhite56@comcast.net. I’m especially pleased to be a part of our particular CO, not all COs are created equal. I think our structure more perfectly fits our legacies of Recovery, Unity and Service than most COs. The democratic running of our office by the groups and their members is, in my opinion, how our structure works best.

Speaking of which, this will be the last time for a while that I bring up elections. December will see the turnover of all thirteen of our service Committee Chairs. From Activities to Volunteers, we’ll be identifying those who want to serve at the CO for the next two years. There are opportunities galore. Besides the Chair positions, each of the Committees will need members, so if you’re not ready to be a Chair, please consider serving on one of the Committees. All are qualified to serve, there are no requirements for Committee members. Serving in AA is a win/win proposition, those who are being served certainly receive benefit, but those who serve gain something that is impossible to get anywhere else. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what it is, you have to do the service yourself to get what it is.

As usual, Bill W. said it best: “Our Twelfth Step – carrying the message – is the basic service that the AA Fellowship gives; this is our principal aim and the main reason for our existence. Therefore, AA is more than a set of principles; it is a society of alcoholics in action. We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither and those who haven’t been given the truth may die.”

There is much more to this, on page S1 of the AA Service Manual, available in the bookstore.

I look forward to trudging the road of happy destiny with you,

In loving service, Wendy

 

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Dear Friends,

Service in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous has an incredibly broad and vast range of opportunities for anyone who wants to get involved. From being a door greeter at your home group to being a delegate of your area, and everything that comes in between; whether you’re answering phones at central offices, volunteering at institutional facilities, being on any kind of committee, participating in workshops and assemblies, going on Twelfth Step calls, buying subscriptions of the Grapevine/La Vina—whether for yourself  or to give to homebound members, or to leave in your Dr.’s offices—all of these are vital and important acts in the effort to extend the hand of AA and its life saving program to the still suffering alcoholic.

I remember the first time I volunteered for service in AA. I was 18 months sober and a two year secretary position became available at a meeting I was regularly attending. I remember being quite intimidated by the prospect of making that long of a commitment. No one seemed to be interested in filling the position, and so it was left open for about a month. I thought about it even harder when I had sort of a light bulb go on in my head that—if I committed to the position, I’d certainly have to show up to the meeting every week—and I’d surely have to stay sober in order to keep it. So, what do I have I to lose? Nothing, right?! By the end of that commitment, which seemed to fly by so fast, I realized that I had 2 more years of sobriety than I did when I first started as secretary! Wow! At that point I said to myself, what’s next? Then the flood gates were opened and I was searching for another “job” in AA.  I had learned by now that the time commitment involved in filling any service needed in AA, is still only a “one day at a time” gig. And with that understanding, I have been involved in General Service to Alcoholics Anonymous for a while now. I often wonder if I would still be sober today had not my “Higher Power” given me the courage to raise my hand back then.

So…here’s what’s happening in my service journey at present:

Area 69 held its 2014 Fall “General Service Elections” Assembly September 26th – 28th. This is such an exciting yet humbling experience for AA members getting involved in the General Service structure. Elections of Area 69 Officers are conducted by ballot using the “Third Legacy Procedure”, as described in the “A.A. Service Manual Combined With Twelve Concepts for World Service” by Bill W., and is found on pages S21-S22.  Area Standing Committee Chairs are elected either by ballot or by raise of hands of all eligible voting members of the Area Assembly. Area 69 elections are held every 2 years (in even years), and the rotation of the new panel begins January 1st (of odd years). As with most service positions in AA, these commitments are 2 year terms.

Some of you may have already heard about the results of the Fall Assembly Elections through your GSR’s reports and through the “grapevine” word of mouth. The Area 69 “Pass the Gavel” December Committee Meeting, being hosted by District 10 on December 6, 2014, is when and where the currently serving Panel 63 Committee Members will graciously “Pass the Gavel” to the newly elected Panel 65 Committee Members, and we’ll get to hear them share about the gift of sobriety through their personal service journeys. Everyone and anyone in the fellowship is welcomed and encourage to attend this one day event  to meet the incoming “trusted servants”, and to thank the rotating-out “trusted servants”. This is a great opportunity to check out general service if you’re interested in learning more about it. “There is always a job to do in A.A.!” as a very good friend mine always told me. Please join us—I look forward to meeting you there!

In Gratitude, Love, and Service,

Renae H.

Utah Delegate Elect (2015-2017)

Area 69/Panel 65

 

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The end of my term as Area 69 Delegate for Panel 63 is quickly approaching; I remember feeling joy and fear when I was elected like it was yesterday.

The joy of knowing that being elected meant that Area 69 AA members and God believed that I could do this job.  At the same time, I was so impressed with the job that my predecessor had done that I wondered if I could do as good a job as he did.  I want to thank Keith (Delegate, Panel 61) for all the help that he gave me along this journey.

I will always be thankful that I was given the opportunity to see the Conference process up-close and personnel.  I love the idea of the Conference buddy who is a Delegate that attended the General Service Conference the previous year.  The conference buddy is there to guide you through the conference process.  This meant that I was a conference buddy to someone my second year at the conference and I really enjoyed being a conference buddy.

Meeting the GSO staff and touring GSO is something that I would recommend to everyone.  Getting to know the Area 69 Districts and passing along information to and from them has allowed me to grow in ways that I could never have imagined.  The best thing that happened to me along this journey is that I made friends that I will always treasure.

The one thing that I know for sure is that I did not do this thing alone.  Working with Panel 63 (Area 69) has been a growing experience that will be with me forever.  As Delegate, I relied on the panel to help me with the process of passing along information.

Finally I would pass along the following to the new Delegate:

  1. Enjoy your time as Delegate.
  2. Make it your own (i.e., don’t try to be like your predecessor).
  3. Track and organize the paper work that you receive from GSO and others.
  4. Rely on Panel 65 members for help.
  5. Know your role as Delegate in order to pass along information effectively.

It has been my pleasure to serve as Area 69 Delegate for Panel 63.  Thank you Area 69 for allowing me to serve.

Walter Curry

Delegate, Area 69 Panel 63

 

 

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Midvale Lunch Bunch

Nick –60 days

Christen –60 days

Terri –18 months

Arianne –9 monts

Carol –37 years

 

Life Elevated Group @Lone Peak, Utah State Prison

Blake –1 year
Randy –1 year

 

Nomadic Lunch Bunch

Stacey –60 days

Kim –3years

Veronique –3 years

Stephen –17 years

Johnny –18 years

Ron –26 years

Tony –35 years

 

City At Seven

Tim –3years

Cliff –3 years

Katie –11 years

Camille –16 years

Mike –17 years

Zeke –29 years

 

An AA Group

Kaila –3 years

Jason –10 years

Bud –29 years